Based on the current weather forecasts, it is likely that the natural gas market will see the return of wellhead production freeze-offs during the first week of February 2023. Winter Storm Elliot in December 2022 saw a peak production freeze-off level of around 15 Bcf/d. The amount of production lost from freeze-offs will be significantly less in February 2023 than what occurred in December 2022 with Winter Storm Elliot. The regions that are most likely to be affected will be the Northeast and Bakken regions. Temperature forecasts in all the other producing basins will likely not be cold enough to cause any production freeze-offs. Here is a look at what happened to Northeast production during the last freeze-off period in late December 2022 with Winter Storm Elliot.
This was during the 12/24 through 12/29 period of 2022. Production freeze-offs really didn’t kick in for the Northeast until the low temperature in Pittsburgh got to around 20 degrees. Northeast production pipelines are much more heavily insulated than production pipelines in Texas and Louisiana. Therefore, it takes a lower temperature to cause freeze-offs in the Northeast than in Texas and Louisiana. In general, low temperatures below 30 degrees in Texas and Louisiana can cause production freeze-offs, whereas in the Northeast, it takes a low temperature at or below 20 degrees to cause production freeze-offs.
Bakken natural gas production is more difficult to determine as to where production freeze-offs begin. There are no correlations when looking at it on a scatterplot between the low temperature and North Dakota production. Bakken production pipelines are even more well insulated than Northeast pipelines since it is much colder in North Dakota. Natural gas production in the Bakken is associated production from oil production. Natural gas production in the Bakken is currently around 2.6 Bcf/d. Looking at a graph between North Dakota production and the Bismarck low temperature in December 2022, it looks like production freeze-offs begin when the low temperature goes below 0 degrees, an obvious and conservative estimate for sure.
The forecast table below takes into account the weather forecasts and the temporary linear relationship between the low temperature in Pittsburgh and the amount of production lost from freeze-offs in December 2022. The yellow represents that relationship during the so-called freeze-off period. After the freeze-off period comes the lagged duration period where it takes time for crew workers to get out to the production fields and get the wellheads back to full production.
The sum total of the production freeze-offs likely to occur in February 2023 will be around 39 Bcf. Almost all the production freeze-offs will occur in the Northeast producing region. The rest of the producing regions in the US Lower 48 will not be cold enough for production freeze-offs.
Coming Soon to Hyperion